The Wild West

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The ABC today announced that, after 28 years, and one of the longest and most enduring partnerships on Australian television, Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton will record the final episode of At the Movies on December 9.

Margaret and David, whose on-screen partnership is legendary, came to the ABC in 2004 from SBS, where they had hosted The Movie Show for the previous 18 years.

Since their accidental pairing more than a quarter of a century ago, Margaret and David have grown to become Australia’s most admired and trusted movie reviewers, as well as enjoying an envious reputation abroad. There are few actors or filmmakers who would refuse an interview with the intrepid pair, such is the regard in which they’re held.

“After 28 years reviewing films on television with Margaret, ten of them at the ABC, I feel it’s time to go. We’ve had a wonderful time, thanks to very supportive and encouraging audiences, throughout that period. And we’ve worked with wonderful teams, both at SBS and at the ABC, people who discovered movies alongside us, helped and assisted us, and in the process became valued friends. We couldn’t have done it without them.

“Most of all, working with Margaret, whose enthusiasm, commitment and passion has been amazing (and only occasionally irritating) has been a joy for over a quarter of a century. But, since I turned 75 last week, I look forward to less pressure and more opportunities to enjoy the movies I love, in the years ahead.” says David.

Margaret adds, “As David says, it’s time to go from the small screen after a great innings, thanks to all our viewers and the fabulous teams we’ve worked with over the years. And thank you to the ABC and SBS. We’ve been lucky to work for two great public broadcasters, and long may they prosper.

“My gratitude goes to David who gave me credibility just by being prepared to sit by me and discuss film when I am just a film enthusiast, not the great walking encyclopedia of film that he is. He’s a grand person, a most generous, decent man, even if a little stubborn at times.

“We’ve seen Australian films continue to mature over nearly three decades on air and I look forward to a continued involvement in this wonderful industry of ours which explores and reflects our culture and our peccadilloes. It’s been such a privilege to have been on the sidelines, witnessing the talent that this country produces in all areas of film production.

“I’m very sad to have to call an end to our show, it started out as a very fragile thing and only survived because there are enough lovers of film in this country to support a specific program about cinema. Thank you all.”

ABC Managing Director, Mark Scott: “The fact that everybody knows them as Margaret and David demonstrates how much they are loved by the Australian public. Their passionate and enthusiastic championing of the cinema art form, their articulate and always entertaining reviews and their personal rapport on stage (not to mention those earrings) have defined them. Their contribution to the ABC and to the wider arts community has been enormous. We are so proud to have worked with them for over a decade at the ABC and we will miss them. I give them five stars.”

The ABC also wishes to announce that, with Margaret’s and David’s decision to retire, At the Movies will not be returning in 2015.

We will definitely be talking about it in TV news this Saturday.

It’s a mad, mad world with the death of Joan Rivers. We are joined by Mad Mick, Don Pedro, and Sir Frost. Also the latest in sports, television, and our 2MCR Artist of the Week.

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Today at the 2014 ASTRA conference, Foxtel made a series of transformative announcements that increase the value of a Foxtel subscription for existing subscribers, maximise the availability of its services for new subscribers and improve the way customers enjoy entertainment.

Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein unveiled plans to provide existing residential customers with enhanced benefits, at no extra charge, as a way of adding even more fantastic value into their packages. Key bonuses include giving the vast majority of subscribers access to all general entertainment channels; giving all customers who take the Premium Movies and Drama tier access to some pay-per-view movies at no extra cost; and giving all Essentials customers, who don’t currently have it, access to Foxtel’s award winning premium drama channel – showcase, the Home of HBO.

Foxtel will also launch a new BoxSets channel and video on demand service that gives access to the best of television from powerhouses such as HBO to most of its current customers at no extra cost. In addition, Foxtel announced plans to strengthen its High-Definition offering across all of its premium content packs by adding nine new HD channels including sports, movies and drama bringing Foxtel’s total HD channel count to 36.

“Foxtel is passionate about giving customers the maximum value for their subscriptions. From securing the best programming possible to providing innovative services like Foxtel Go and Look Back, we’re serious about going the extra mile. Today we’ve raised the bar even higher by giving our customers access to bonus content at no extra charge,” said Mr. Freudenstein.

Foxtel also launched a new Entertainment Pack for just $25^ per month on a 12 month plan. The move radically changes its pricing structure for new customers and makes Foxtel available for as little as $25^ per month for Foxtel cable and satellite subscriptions. The Entertainment Pack will feature more than 40 channels and include many of the most popular channel brands such as FOX8, Lifestyle, TVH!TS, ARENA, MTV, National Geographic, Universal, TCM and more as well as access to the great functionality of Foxtel’s iQ set top boxes. The new pricing will launch in November.

“We know that many Australians are aware of the amazing content and technology that Foxtel offers but feel that the price is not right for their budget. A $25 entry point that gives access to over 40 popular channels in our Entertainment Pack will cause millions of people to have another look at Foxtel,” Mr. Freudenstein continued.

As part of its new pricing structure, Foxtel will also revamp its premium tiers by offering the Movies pack at $20 per month*; the Sports Pack at $25 per month* and the Drama Pack, which includes showcase, BBC First, FX, 13th Street and the new BoxSets channel at $20 per month*. Three General Entertainment Packs will also be available including Entertainment Plus, Docos and Kids, each priced at $10 per month*. BoxSets will be available as a stand alone for $10 per month*.

In addition, Foxtel welcomed the addition of the new Discovery Kids channel to the Kids Pack. Discovery Kids is Australia’s only children’s channel solely dedicated to providing fun educational programming for primary school-aged kids.

New customers who take Platinum HD will pay the same amount as existing Platinum HD subscribers.
The new pricing is designed to make Foxtel more accessible to the broadest number of Australians possible and offers customers more flexibility in customising their subscriptions to best suit their entertainment needs.

Foxtel also confirmed that its new set top box, the iQ3, is currently in its final field trials and would be available to customers later this year.

“iQ3 will be the most advanced set-top box available and will provide a revolutionary new way to enjoy the best that Foxtel has to offer,” Mr. Freudenstein said.
iQ3 will include features such as an improved electronic program guide, sophisticated search and recommendation functionality and the ability to ‘Start Over’ at the beginning of a program if you tune in part way through.

Finally, Foxtel announced that its much anticipated Triple-Play of television, broadband and home phone will commence final trials with Foxtel staff in November, with a full consumer roll-out expected in the first quarter of 2015.

“The changes we are announcing today constitute a defining moment in Australian media. With amazing bonuses for current customers, new pricing designed to make Foxtel more accessible and with iQ3 and Triple-Play just around the corner, the time has never been better to take advantage of this golden age of television through Foxtel,” concluded Mr. Freudenstein.

In summary, Foxtel is:

  • improving the value of a Foxtel subscription by giving current customers bonus content at no extra cost;
  • launching a radical new pricing model for its cable and satellite service to increase customer growth;
  • creating a world beating viewing experience through iQ3;
  • continuing to invest in securing and creating great programming; and
  • ramping up its cost effective Triple-Play service of Entertainment, Broadband and Home Phone.
  • APPENDIX 1 – Example benefits for existing customers

    From November 3, all existing customers will receive bonus content at no extra charge. Bonus content will be based on current customer subscriptions. The following are a few examples of these changes.

  • All Movies customers (excluding Seniors customers) who did not have the full Movie offering will have access to all nine Movie Channels, at no extra cost;
  • All Premium Movies and Drama customers will have access to one pay-per-view movie each month (including New Release movies), at no extra cost;
  • All Platinum customers will have access to two pay-per-view movies per month (including New Release movies), at no extra cost;
  • All Customers who subscribe to at least one General Entertainment tier (including Platinum customers) and Seniors customers, will get Foxtel’s brand new BoxSets channel, giving them access to the World’s Best Drama series all in one place, at no extra cost.
  • APPENDIX 2 – New pricing and packaging structure from 3 November 2014
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    APPENDIX 3 – Foxtel BoxSets Channel
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    Foxtel’s BoxSets Channel is the easy way to watch box sets of the world’s best drama when you want. This brand new channel offers complete seasons of premium dramas on channel 116 and available in Anytime through Foxtel Go or with an internet connected iQ box.

    For customers without an internet connected iQ box, Foxtel BoxSets will feature continuous broadcast of popular drama series that can be viewed back to back or recorded to an iQ set top box and played back at their convenience.

    Customers with an internet connected iQ box will find whole series stacked in the Anytime BoxSets section, which they can download and watch whenever they want.

    BoxSets is available in the Foxtel drama pack and will be bonus content for current customers who subscribe to 1, 2 or 3 general entertainment packs, as well as Platinum subscribers and Seniors subscribers, at no extra cost. BoxSets will launch in November 2014.

    Foxtel BoxSets will include complete series of library drama and complete past seasons of returning drama series. Initial titles that will be available shortly after launch include:

    Available live and in Anytime

  • Game of Thrones – Seasons 1-4
  • The Sopranos – Seasons 1-6
  • Big Love – Seasons 1-5
  • The Newsroom – Seasons 1-2
  • Rome – Seasons 1-2
  • Band of Brothers
  • Entourage – Seasons 1-8
  • Wentworth – Seasons 1-2
  • Available in Anytime (On-Demand)

  • Getting On
  • Looking – Season 1
  • Girls – Seasons 1-3
  • Angels in America
  • APPENDIX 4 – iQ3

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    iQ3 is Foxtel’s new, world class, set top box. It features a brand new look and feel both in the design of the box itself as well as a cutting-edge user experience.

    The iQ3 is a true ‘hybrid’ set top box, seamlessly blending content from broadcast and IP to enable a user easy navigation between Foxtel’s extensive catalogue of linear and Anytime programming.

    With full internet connectivity, including WiFi, the iQ3 also opens up new internet-based services including interactive apps such as Foxtel Tunes, Fox Sports News Active, Sky News Weather Active, Sky News Multiview.

    A new TV Guide, improved navigation, search and intelligent recommendations helps people discover what’s best for them while allowing them to watch what they want, when they want.

    Key features:

  • Start Over – allowing viewers to go back to the start a program in an instant if they’ve missed the beginning of their show
  • Incorporates subscription and free-to-air content to maximise access to available programming
  • Record up to three shows at once while watching another live program
  • Wi-Fi connectivity so you don’t need to link it to the internet using an internet cable
  • Much more recording space than the iQHD with up to 172 hours of HD recording or up to 345 hours of SD recording
  • I really hope you enjoyed reading all of that. Head on over to Foxtel and let them know what you think on their Facebook and Twitter.

    Today on the show we don’t participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Mad Mick joined us live in the studio. Also the latest in Sports, TV, Pete’s Week, and our 2MCR Artist of the Week.